Feb 20

“The DUFF”: What Is It? Movie Acronym Explained

Just as I didn’t at first know the meaning of the movie title Laggies (see yesterday’s post), I also didn’t know about the meaning of new film The DUFF. Guess this shows just how out of it I am, as the Urban Dictionary has had entries as far back as 2003.

Turns out DUFF stands for “designated ugly fat friend.” And, now that I know, I’m not unhappy at all that this has never been part of my lexicon.

If Laggies is for the twenty-somethings, The DUFF is for the teen-somethings. In Kody Keplinger‘s YA novel (2010), on which this film is based, the DUFF is Bianca, age 17—who in actuality “isn’t that fat or ugly,” according to Booklist. But among some peers she’s designated as such anyway—that’s just how those mean kids roll.

By the way, the author was a senior in high school herself when she wrote it—and apparently she really gets the struggles of being viewed as a DUFF.

Kirkus Reviews, about Keplinger’s book: “Her snarky teen speak, true-to-life characterizations and rollicking sense of humor never cease in her debut. Teen readers will see both themselves and their friends in Bianca’s layered, hostile world.”


First, watch the trailer below:

I hear what you’re thinking: That Bianca is neither fat nor ugly! Couldn’t they fill that role with someone more appropriate?!

Seriously? I thought we’d already covered this.

But back when the casting choice was announced many were similarly outraged. Carole Horst, Variety, states that it created “a storm on social media. ‘Only in Hollywood would Mae Whitman be considered the Duff’ was the consensus.”

Among the adults featured, states Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter, is Allison Janney, who’s “effortlessly complicated as Bianca’s concerned yet distracted single mom, a self-help maven spouting mnemonic-device pep talks.”

Like Whitman, Janney also reportedly relates to having been DUFFish—in her case, for being so tall.

Feb 18

“You Don’t Own Me”: An Enduring Lesley Gore Legacy

I remember Lesley Gore (1946-2015), a popular singer in my youth, mainly for her songs “It’s My Party,” “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” and “You Don’t Own Me—all of which, but especially the latter, have always been fun to sing along with female friends, usually the higher the decibels the better.

This song was released originally in 1963—that would make me about 11 at the time. And after all these years, the use of this song as the cornerstone of a relatively recent PSA regarding women’s rights gives me a big big kick.

By the way, Gore introduces this herself, and just some of the other peeps you might recognize in the video below: actresses Mae Whitman, Lena Dunham, and Natasha Lyonne; singer Sia.

Another enjoyable version of this tune, an update, is performed by Grace, featuring G-Eazy:

Update, 2019: Now “an anthem of the #MeToo movement” co-writer John Madara has recently said that “the message…is ultimately about empathy” (Neda Ulaby, NPR). ‘”Listen to what people have to say; be kind and loving to the people you come into contact with,’ he says. ‘I think ‘You Don’t Own Me’ says that. It says, ‘Treat people fairly’.”

Sample Lyrics 

…And don’t tell me what to do
And don’t tell me what to say
And please, when I go out with you
Don’t put me on display, ’cause
You don’t own me, don’t try to change me in any way…

I’m free and I love to be free
To life my life the way I want…